MORE GREAT NEWS: Conservative Student Group Fights For Free Market In Medicine

StarTribune posted a timely article (Via Huffington Post) from Durham, North Carolina. They’re reporting on a “new conservatism” that’s taking root on some college campuses, fed in part by opposition to Obamacare. The groups are modeled after The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy, which according to the post “has molded several generations of legal thinkers at the nation’s law schools.” We’re excited to hear that this new wave of conservative thinkers wants to take root in graduate schools of business, foreign policy, and most relevant to our fight, schools of medicine like Duke University.

The Benjamin Rush Society is one of the fastest-growing group meeting to discuss conservative alternatives to current policies. Specifically, members support a free-market, limited government approach to medicine. The organization says, “[Our] ranks have swelled since passage of the federal Affordable Care Act.” And that makes sense, patients, doctors and insurers are all concerned with what 2014 will bring.

Of course, in our day-to-day operation, we’ve exited the insurance nightmares and government regulations. And we accept that it might SOUND crazy to someone on a med school campus. That’s because it contradicts popular opinion. At least that’s the key takeaway from reading StarTribune’s article: academia might be part of the problem, insofar as they’re educating our future doctors to go along with the broken system. But increased membership in a radical group like The Benjamin Rush Society is indicative that students ARE thinking like we are at Atlas MD.

Here’s Dr. Beth Haynes, executive director of the Rush society: “Thirty to 40 years ago, the rule of law was a joke. It wasn’t taken seriously. It had no intellectual weight to it upon law campuses. That’s a very similar place to where free market in academic medicine is. It’s considered laughable. I want to get free market back to the point where it’s a respectable point of view that has to be seriously considered. There’s no way that can happen until students are aware of what that really means, and they start having conversations.”

And that’s why we are actively reaching out to The Benjamin Rush Society to share our story with current students at institutions like Duke. We want med students to make an informed choice when they start practicing, and that can only happen by happening upon this sparking conversation. Again, we’re upfront about the fact that ALL doctors cannot jump ship and abandon insurance outright. But so long as no alternative presents itself we cannot expect the flawed system to remain anything but flawed. And with more patients expecting care in 2014 with the ACA legislation taking effect, we can only expect doctor job satisfaction to fall below its already deplorable levels.

Fourth-year medical student Alex Chamessian attends Duke University. He leads a modest Benjamin Rush chapter that hosts debates, guest speakers and Skype chats. Similar to counterparts at Ohio State, Yale, George Washington and other campuses, the Duke chapter “embraces spirited debate rather than confrontation.” Their events typically draw 40 to 50 students, with the core group consisting of approximately half-dozen leaders.

Meanwhile, at the University of Cincinnati, Benjamin Rush talks regularly draw 60 to 70 students, said Tom Boone, a third-year medical student who started the chapter with a group of friends who shared dissatisfaction with what they came to see as a “one-sided curriculum.” According to Boone, the school’s one-sided opinion is one where government health care solutions typically prevail. Boone is quoted as saying, “We realized that this whole thing has been a bunch of bunk. We haven’t heard the other side.” The article adds that Duke and many other U.S. medical schools spend minimal time in the classroom studying health care policy or economics.

Altogether more than 50 chapters have sprung up, including at Duke, Northwestern, Stanford and six of the eight Ivy League schools. The Benjamin Rush Society began in or around 2008, when Canadian activist Sally Pipes organized a Washington meeting with support from the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The organization’s credo is “the profession of medicine calls its practitioners to serve their patients rather than the government.” That’s a motto we can stand behind.

It’s also worth mentioning the concluding line of the article. It reads, “They also support so-called ‘concierge medicine’ in which those with more money pay for individualized care otherwise unavailable.” It’s not a glaringly false statement, but one that needs clarifying. That’s part of our enthusiasm to speak with The Benjamin Rush Society, so we can connect with med students looking to expand their health care understanding. We want to clear up our stance on concierge medicine versus direct care. Direct care is a subset of what has been called concierge medicine since the movement started back in the early 1990s. And yes, serving patients is our number one priority. That’s why we spent years researching the market and finding a business model that would allow us to DO what we want to DO (serve patients, not paperwork, to get paid). Based on reading this article, we are led to believe that concierge medicine is viewed as a two-tiered system only eligible to the elite. We need to make it clear to our future generation of doctors that there are alternatives within the concierge medicine alternative. Practices like Atlas MD are not some windfall or fluke. We believe that doctors can treat patients without insurance, charge affordable rates and run a healthy business. Albeit we can’t provide our service to EVERYONE, we stand firmly behind our vision, one that offers proactive, preventative care to the middle class, at a monthly rate cheaper than most monthly cable bills.